CthulhuPunk is a sci-fi horror role-playing game based on H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos set during the mid 21st Century. The game is published by Steve Jackson Games and uses the GURPS system. It combines the Call of Cthulhu and Cyberworld, a cyberpunk game released earlier in 1993 by Steve Jackson Games. The political, economic, and social background of Cthulhupunk is that of Cyberworld and so is the technology used, requiring the use of that game in conjunction with CthulhuPunk. Steve Jackson Games first released CthulhuPunk in 1995.
CthulhuPunk is set in the mid 21st century in a dystopian cyberpunk future. The United States is no longer the land of the free but a dictatorship. Global climate change has gotten worse, a plague devastated the world, and another plague turned Australia into a graveyard. Cyberwear is commonplace and netrunners use neural interfaces to link to cyberspace. It's a world in which man-portable laser and gauss weapons are new to the market. Geo-politically it's a multi-polar world and the United States is no longer a superpower much less a hyperpower. There are megacorps that are more powerful than many nations and several global criminal syndicates whose power can compare to that of a megacorp. The masses are entertained by gladiatorial sports, virtual reality, sensory chips, drugs, gambling, sensationalist news, pornography, and the suicide of snuff artists. In the background, hidden in the shadows is the Mythos. Outer Gods, Great Old Ones, and various races and cults that are corrupting human society, manipulating mankind, and/or bringing madness, terror, and/or death.
History of Cyberworld
- 1997-2001 Tolliver's Disease, a retrovirus which between 1997-2001 infects over a third of humanity and kills over 1 billion.
- 2006 - Global depression brought about by the "Grand Slam". Resulting in the crash of stock markets and the total collapse of weak economies, ending in 35-50% global unemployment.
- 1998 - Hurricane Abner, the most powerful hurricane in recorded history devastate the American Southeast, the Caribbean, and Cuba.
- 2000 - Hurricane Marko follows the same path as Abner and is equally destructive, bringing the reality of global warming.
- 2007 - Martial law is imposed on a third of the United States as civil unrest is worsened by a record heat wave.
- 2017 - The National Emergency Resource Coordinating Commission (NERCC) is established by President Patterson to suppress dissent in the United States.
- 2024 - Flash riots erupt in the US, resulting in the declaration of martial law. President Patterson takes advantage of the unrest to establish a dictatorship, suspending presidential elections which have remained suspended 20 years later.
- 2026 - Alaska becomes virtually autonomous, defying the US by establishing the Alaskan Free State.
- 2027 - US peacefully annexes most of Mexico, though the five southernmost states oppose annexation.
- 2028 - Martial law in the United States is replaced by new "laws" that explicitly favor certain class of people, creating virtual castes.
- 2030 - Five states in southern Mexico gain their independence from the United States after three years of warfare, forming Mexico Libre.
- 1999 - China is taken over by a liberal government in bloodless coup, resulting in seven years of trade expansion and economic development.
- 2006 - China is devastated by the Grand Slam, leading to civil war.
- 2014 - China is taken over by the "Third Revolution", after a civil war lasting 8 years.
- 2041 - Nearly all contact ceases between China and the rest of the world as a new "Bamboo Curtain" goes up, ending most economic trade and all diplomatic relations.
- 2003 - NATO is dissolved.
- 2024 - A coalition of Arab states attack Israel. The war ends in victory for Israel which ends up with a defacto empire, ruling Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and the western half of Iraq (the eastern half of Iraq is later taken over by Iran).
- 2023 - The Russo-Japanese Economic Union is created which within 20 years ends up dominating world trade.
- 2025 - Chiletina formed by the merger of Argentina and Chile.
- 2030 - The International Rain Forest Protection Pact to protect the Brazilian rain forest is imposed on Brazil by the Russo/Japanese alliance. Which forces Brazil to rely on tourism, crippling its potential.
- 2037 - Mysterious plague wipes out all human life in Australia within 6 months. Most suspect a Chinese as the culprits but fear to take action fearing a Chinese response. Australia is placed under quarantine.
Rich vs Poor Nations
- Firstworld = The industrialized, advanced nation-states of the world. Consisting of United Europe, Japan, Commonwealth of Independent States, Chilentina, Israeli Empire, United States, most of Canada, several Asian "Tigers", Singapore, and perhaps China. The rising economic super stars of the Firstworld are Chilentina, Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
- Lastworld = The remainder of the world. Some of them have imported decent technology by exporting their natural resources. Most of them are like the Third World of the 20th century with a few at the top owning almost all the wealth and the rest struggling to survive.
- Russso-Japanese Union = Consisting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) of most of the former Soviet Union (minus Central Asia and the Baltic states) and Japan. The CIS was in dire economic straits and asked Japan for assistance, which was dealing with its demographic issues and lack of natural resources. In Japan are the corporate headquarters, while in Russia are the farms, mines, refineries, and factories. Tokyo and Minsk are the dual capitals, while the world's center for finance and culture are St. Petersburg and Moscow.
- China = In the early 21st century it was a world leader in genetic research and a major player in the global economy. Nobody knows what is going on within China since the Third Revolution established a new "Bamboo Curtain" but most believe that the Chinese are responsible for the plague that wiped out all humans in Australia within a 6 month period in 2037. No one is pushing to resolve the secret, fearing a Chinese response. Geo-politically they've created a layer of buffer states along their frontier, controlled by pro-China warlords (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, & Bhutan). Technologically the Chinese are generally speaking at a comparable level to the United States, Europe, and Russo-Japanese Union. China does maintain a trading relationship with the nations of the "lastworld", exporting to them very respectable copies of somewhat outdated technologies (e.g. computer chips) of the first decade of the 21st century. They also offer on world markets, various gene-engineered crops like UV resistant rice.
- United States = Controlled by the "Provisional Government" (ProGov), an oppressive right-wing dictatorship led by the Provisional President who is dictator for life with the rubber-stamp legislature, the Provisional Congress. It's rule is enforced by the National Emergency Resource Control Commission (NERCC) which is a paramilitary organization whose powers in law enforcement and security are nearly unlimited. The citizenry are kept in check via the U.S. Citizenship Scale, in which each citizen is given a rank determining what civil rights and privileges they have. The rank is determined by such factors as his or her wealth, power, fame, job, skills, race, ethnicity, loyalty to the regime or nation, contributions to the economy or state, etc.
- Chiletina = It's challenging the Russo-Japanese economic and technological dominance, and is steadily becoming a more serious threat to them. In the New World, it's the primary source of technology. Even they can't approach the quantity of the Russo-Japanese, in most sectors they equal them in quality. They have been recently beating Japan with new innovations and ideas, becoming the "Japan of the West". It has a free press and for the most part allows its citizens to voice their opposition, and offers educated American refugees asylum. It's a prosperous capitalist society that runs a quasi-welfare state and has a harsh justice system.
- United Europe = It's a commonwealth which has a stable economy and is a player on the global scene. The nationalistic militant Italy and Germany are at odds with the moderate Scandinavian states, England, and Iberian Federation.
- Central Asian Federation = consists of the ex-Soviet states of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tadzhiktan, and Kyrgyzstan. Which is a totalitarian regime with an expansionist agenda, that is hostile toward the CIS and globally is a troublemaker. Rousing the Islamic League and manipulating pawns in the Far East. Economically its industry competes with that of China. The CAF has to deal with internal political and racial struggles.
The world's economy is dominated by the "Bolshy Ten" which are their own small autonomous borderless states, each with over $1 trillion in assets. Whose ranks are dominated by the Russo-Japanese Korps (six in the Bolshy Ten), with the Chiletina Korps rapidly rising (one in the Bolshy Ten and three in the top 20). The Bolshy Ten have their own military and currency, espionage and diplomatic arms, and public welfare services. Lording over the employees like feudal lords are the executives. They are for all intents and purposes the last bastions of the illusion of progress and civilization, and therefore corporate employees are the least prepared to face the Mythos.
- Russo-Japanese Korps = Ishido Communications, Kosmozavot Tenno Tanjo Ltd, Hiromatsu Power Systems, Todai Technosystems, Shinowara Integrated Industries, and Korsakov-Shimadzu. Though they ferociously fight among themselves, they present a unified front against outsiders who threaten Russo-Japanese economic primacy.
- Chiletinan Korp = Rio Largo Manufacturing, whose products are not only the equal of the Japanese in both cost and quality but they are also often better.
- Koream Korp = Han-Rhee Ltd, which has established a strong trading relationship with the Central Asian Federation. Based in Seoul, it has factories in the CAF and does most of its business in Central Asia, India, and the Arab nations. It's products are not known for being of exceptional quality nor value.
- American Korp = North American Technologies, which was established as a "national champion" by the ProGov to compete with the Russo-Japanese, who forced a number of US companies to merge. The quality of its products are average and because of the union-busting policy of the NERCC, its prices are competitive. Dominates most of the markets in the US and runs a profitable business in Central America and Canada.
- European Korp = Fabrique Europa, which was established in 2022 upon the merger of various firms. The quality of its products are the equal of the Russo-Japanese but more expensive.
- Russki-Yak = Is the result of the merger of the Japanese Yakuza and Russian "mafia". In which the small time Russian mobs were organized and mobilized by the Japanese syndicates. Who now are the world's unchallenged criminal elite with operations throughout the world. Technologically they are a state-of-the-art mob, whose operations are modeled on international business principles. Which has it's fingers in nearly everything in the Russo-Japanese Union and knows nearly everything that happens within the union. It's a totally ruthless mob whose assassins (zeromen) are the most feared cyber killers in the world. Any Mythos-related activity that they discover poses a threat to their interests they will crush.
- Triads = Chinese organized crime syndicates which have been around for more than 300 years to the 17th century, and according to legend the Triads are nearly two millennia old, descending from the Red Eyebrow Society of the 1st century AD. It's not a monolithic organization, but a collection of criminal outfits. The Triads operate throughout the world, though their stronghold is in Southeast Asia with Singapore as their unofficial headquarters. Throughout the Pacific Rim (both in Asia and North America), the Triads are as strong and often stronger than the Russki-Yak or the MafInc (the exception being in Japan, where the Yakuza are supreme). In any Western city that has a good sized community of immigrants from the Far East, they are a power. Among organized crime groups the Triads are the most superstitious and mystical criminal organizations, and therefore the international mob that is most likely to have Mythos involvement). It's members are masters of low-tech and unarmed combat due to martial arts training, and they have a reputation on the streets as being a bit crazy, being flashy, and spilling a lot of blood. When secrecy is needed though, they can be as stealthy and low profile as the competition. The most powerful Triad is the Red Sleeve Society based in Singapore, and it has influence throughout the Pacific Rim. It's Lodgemaster (Shan Chu) is known as the "Red Leopard" who is rumored as not being Chinese and comes from Tibet or Mongolia, having studied in a Buddhist temple before becoming an assassin. The Triads are big suppliers of opiates and designer drugs.
- MafInc = It has prospered in the new repressive America, providing all types of diversions and vices, many of which used to be both cheap and legal. The "Dons" continue to have Sicilian ancestry. It consists of over 200 gangs or families. They brought all of their legal operations under one roof, forming a Mafia-funded and controlled mega-korp, unofficially known as "Familia, Ltd". Many of its Dons and members in general have taken WASP-sounding names, and are often more WASP than true WASPS. It has expanded throughout the annexed territories of Mexico, where it waged a brutal war with the Mexican Traffs, which eventually ended in their victory. The MafiaInc considers cults of any kind to be dangerous and therefore to be expelled or eliminated. They wage war on cultists, especially in their "sin cities" of Nevada, Miami, and Acapulco.
- Traffs = South American drug cartels which produce and distribute most of the illegal drugs in the world. All the major international mobs come to the Traffs for their drugs, as the Traffs stick to only one thing (drugs) and mostly stick to Latin America, letting others handle the retail side. On their home turf, they are basically feudal lords who control huge tracts of land where they are the government and law. The main ones are Bolivia's Chavez Cartel (specializing in designer drugs), Peru's Mordella Syndicate (the most ruthless), and Colombia's Group of Three (which is the wealthiest). In addition there are about three dozen lesser syndicates and numerous local trafficante gangs. For a time the Mordella Syndicate was at war with a native Mythos cult, but they now have a truce with them and perhaps an alliance.
- Il Unione = Which is a purely local European criminal organization. European syndicates which formed a loose confederation. The Union Corse, a Coriscan syndicate gave the organization its name. When the Mafia relocated to the United States, they moved into the power vacuum. Avoids challenging the Russki-Yak but nasty when it comes to other groups challenging it's turf within Europe. Which includes almost all of the Mediterranean region, throughout the surrounding coastal nation-states of southern and western continental Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
- CeeBees = Is one of the various local independent crime syndicates in America, unaffiliated with the Big 4. The CeeBees are a syndicate in Los Angeles, which was formed by the merger of the Crips and Bloods who joined forces due to the rising power of the Latino street gangs. It's a purely local syndicate, but within Los Angeles its power rivals that of the local branches of the global crime syndicates.
The Mythos World
- Taskforce Against Satanic Cults = TASC is a unit within NERCC whose job is to prosecute spiritualists, fringe religions, casual students of magic, and UFO theorists. It also identifies and destroys "occult terrorists" and it appears to be increasingly finding and destroying Mythos-related threats.
- Bioinformation Institute = B.I. is a Russo-Japanese research project that is very well funded. It has a mandate to investigate the paranormal and runs a secret project whose sold agenda is investigating Mythos-related incidents. It also is rumored to have a secret bio-engineering program to boost psionic abilities.
- Department D-11 = Europe's special unit tasked with investigating occult crimes, with less than a dozen full time investigators. Who hunt violent criminals, and does not persecute elements on the fringe.
- Bri-Gung = It's a secret Tibetan monastery (Buddhist) which is rumored to train a chosen few students who are the most spiritually advanced to oppose evil supernatural forces (the Old Ones). Only a few extraordinary Westerners have received training from the Bri-Gung.
- Assassins = The Hashashin which were destroyed in the 13th century were supposedly established to fight Mythos cults and still exists, having gone underground. It is said to now exist as a high-tech, top secret society that is incredibly well funded.
- Knights Templar = The Catholic warrior monk order which was destroyed in the early 14th century is rumored to still exist, having gone underground and continues to fight Mythos cults.
- Special Office = Which was established in 1001 AD by Pope Sylvester to fight the Mythos. It's members were given specialized training to deal with inhuman threats. With anywhere between 100-400 members worldwide at any time. Since the 12th century, every Pope has come from the Special Office and the institution still exists.
- Starry Wisdom = Which was established in 1877 in the United States and was thought destroyed, but has reappeared. It's an unusual organization among Mythos cultists, being a formal organization. Known for conducting secret and elaborate rituals and wild orgies filled with sex and drugs. Initiation into the secrets of the organization and advancement is via ritual crimes, starting as a witness, then progressing to committing it with your own hands. Rumor is that human sacrifice is involved at a certain stage.
- Deep Ones = They have been moving away from surface dwellers and camouflaging their shrines and homes, rather than clash with humans whenever possible. In the meantime they interbreed with mankind and use the hybrids to interact with humanity. They are an ancient race that is wise and powerful. Though not devout worshipers they do obey and worship Cthulhu, Dagon, and Hydra, and will sacrifice humans if commanded.
- Serpent Men = Only a few of them are left, usually frightened degenerate creatures. Once in a while one is born with the power and intelligence of the ancients, and will turn to human cultists for its followers and allies. It may have the power to pass as a human.
- Ghouls = Though aware of the Great Old Ones, they don't worship them though they will do what is necessary to keep them appeased (e.g. sacrificing humans). They also recruit into their tribes humans, often Mythos cultists.
- Mi-go = An alien race based in Yuggoth that has been conducting mining operations on Earth for untold eons and using humans in their mines. Forced to keep their activities underground once mankind develop technology advanced enough, they now use Mythos cultists as their liaisons and spies among humans. It's a beneficial relationship in which both the Mi-go and Mythos cultists gain.
- Tcho-Tcho = In Tibet is the Plateau of Tsang, the home of the most notorious and feared group of Mythos cultists. Descendants of dwarfish creatures that crossed over to Earth from the Plain of Leng in the Dreamlands, then crossbred with nomadic humans. Resulting in a race of stunted humanoids, averaging 4 ft in height. Who are usually of below average intelligence, though savage and cunning. Led by quick-witted and occasionally brilliant leaders. For centuries the Tcho-Tcho have been hated and feared in the Far East, known for looting, killing, and pillaging indiscriminately. Worshiping the Mythos entities and performing dark rituals that include human sacrifice. Tcho-Tcho sorcerers were feared across the Far East, India, and Arabia. Communist China nearly succeeded in exterminating the Tcho-Tcho race. Upon the independence of Tibet in 1999, the Tcho-Tcho showed a "civilized" face to the world, sending its brightest (usually wizards) to the West. Now they work as psychic counselors and astrologers, teach at universities, and work for major korps. Secretly the Tcho-Tcho continue to serve the Great Old Ones and spread corruption throughout the entire world.